I was recently talking with a colleague of mine who was getting a little tired of the sales life. They weren’t too keen on quotas, cold calling, unhappy customers, big customers, small customers, and everything else in between.
They felt, in their own words, that they had “lost their drive to succeed in sales“.
They are doing well in their current sales position, there is no doubt about that, but for lack of a better term they are simply tired of working so hard. There were many things we talked about during this conversation, and I could go on and on about passion and motivation, but instead I want to go a little higher and talk about the future of their, and your, career.
You see my friend was what I call “half-lost”. They knew where they were, how to be successful, but they didn’t know where they wanted to go. They wanted out of sales but didn’t know what else they could do.
I want to highlight some of the takeaways I got from the conversation as well as the advice I gave him.
If you’re in sales then you’re in luck. Because your skills are matched for almost every industry out there. Granted sales skills by themselves may not find you your dream job, but being able to sell yourself is half the battle.
Take a good hard look at your skills. When I view my own personal skills I understand that my skill set is not simply “sales’. It is much more complicated then that.
Sales to me is only the ability to create value or interest around something. I have skills in negotiations, strategic partnerships, communication, project management, marketing, web design, writing, presentation, technology, SaaS, property management, real estate, software, graphic design, plastics, etc. The list goes on and on. And every one of these skills is because of my sales career and the sales positions I’ve held through the years.
No matter what your job title is, you have a similar resume at your finger tips.
Let’s imagine my friend was a librarian. They have skills in organization, books, writing, government, non-profits, authors, communication, CRMs, etc.]
What if they were a truck driver. They have skills in transportation, time management, long distance travel, interstate connections, automotive & trucks, engine repair, maybe transportation cooling systems, etc.
If you are interested in moving away from your current career into something different then don’t be discourage if you’ve only help one type of job. The skills you’ve built in those jobs are much farther reaching then your title.
Many professionals make the mistake of thinking of their future no farther then the next promotion. Sales Rep to Sales Manager for example.
This is a grave mistake because rarely does your career end where you plan or want it to end. If you are only thinking one step ahead then you’re likely to run into the same situation my colleague did. Stagnation.
They only ever thought about their next step. Their next job. Their next raise. Their next sale. While this limited focus has it’s place, it is rarely when talking about your professional life as a whole.
You always want to be thinking a few steps ahead. What comes after your promoted to Sr. Sales Executive? Sales Manager? Director of Sales? COO? CEO? Do you want to manage a small team or an entire department? Do you even want to be a manager or are you ok with being an individual contributor?
Think about what you want in life ans use that desire to aim your focus.
The best thing my colleague did was reach out to his network, myself included. There are two reasons this is always a great idea, ideas and opportunities.
Like I mentioned before, he didn’t know what he would do if he left sales. His entire career was in sales. That’s all he knew, or so he thought. I was able to give him a broader view of his skills and how they would relate to other positions and careers.
I gave him ideas for next steps including opportunities I thought he’d be a good fit for.
By getting this outside perspective he was able to open his mind up to a whole new world of possibilities.
Although I did give him a different view of how to look at his skill set one other thing I want to point out is that I also suggested he look at his current job to see why he’s lost is passion and if there was anything that he, or the company, could do to change his mind.
He was already successful and well established in the company and industry and if he could make some slight changes then maybe a move out of sales wouldn’t be the best option after all.
But after looking into that he still needed to move on then doing it right away is the best thing. The last thing you want is to be miserable in a job. It doesnt help you and it wont help the company.
~ Johnny Bravo
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